Addiction or Habit?

In my last blog post I touched on the subject that we are on our phones so much that sometimes we do it without even realizing it. For many people it takes more of a conscious effort to stay off of our phones than to be on them. While I do believe some people do have Internet addictions, I think excessive phone use for most of us is simply out of habit.

I was a recruitment counselor last year and part of the agreement was that I had to delete my Facebook for several months and make all of my other profiles private. I knew that I could definitely handle this challenge, but it was going to be just that – a challenge. When D-day (Deactivation day) finally came, I nervously clicked through the steps and before I knew it I was Facebook-free.

At first it was difficult not only because of FOMO but because I kept going to check Facebook out of habit when I was bored or when I needed to look up someones birthday. More than anything Facebook serves as a social register for me and it was hard to break off my relationship and dependence from this resource. I do admit to cheating a few times and signing back in because I desperately needed to look something up. However, after a month or so something miraculous happened – I stopped feeling the urge to check Facebook and finally felt content with my Facebook-free status.

After several months Bid Day finally came and I was allowed to get my Facebook back. Instead of rushing back to my computer I actually held off for several weeks because I had come to enjoy my life sans-Facebook. Part of the appeal was the challenge of resisting it but the other part was the freedom that came with recognizing I didn’t need to know everything that was going on in my friend’s lives. I actually only got it back because my friends kept nagging me because they couldn’t tag me in pictures.

I know that this is only one case, but I know that if people actively tried to cut back on phone and internet time they would have an experience similar to mine. Just like forming any new habit it is hard at first, but once you get into a new routine you no longer miss your old one. This truth is proof that for many of us media over-consumption is simply out of habit and not actual addiction.

Emma vanBree

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